Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Councilor Katherine Hobbs is in the news for asking the City to examine developing the air rights over the west side part of the transitway/LRT line. I have a bunch of mutually contradictory thoughts on this. 1. The City should sell air rights to help pay for the transitway. Taxpayers are forking out a bundle of money for a transit line, we can recoup some of that expenditure by selling prime access to the most-accessible locations in the city. Otherwise, many of the development benefits go to the builders on adjacent lands. In some cases, these are private developers; in the case … Continue reading Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Development charges and misleading headlines

Today’s Citizen has a story on development charges. The headline, picture,  and first part of the story emphasizes how much of the development charges will pay for transit. Buried deeper in the story, and not all that easy to spot, is this bit: But in general, fees for new roads are far and away the biggest chunk of any of the charges: for a new house inside the Greenbelt,You can read the whole story here:         Do you notice that the headline doesn’t read “rampant road construction boosts housing costs?”  There is no picture of Terry … Continue reading Development charges and misleading headlines

Concrete images

Many years ago the maze of pathways around the Portage Bridge were designed with a number of landings, lookouts, or other flats spots. I once heard that these were for sculptures. Trivia fans may recall that at the time of construction, the proposed site for the new National Art Gallery was between Archives and the Supreme Court. The building would both face Wellington Street and spill down the cliff and have another face towards the river, in an area of prime waterfront that is still just another parking lot. So having a sculpture walk makes some sense. It may be 30 … Continue reading Concrete images

My rules vs your rules

Yes, dealing with the City (and the BIA’s, the Community Associations, the Councilors, neighbours… you name it) can be frustrating. I persevere, joining traffic studies and public advisory committees because sometimes we “win”, ie speaking up effects a change or improvement in a project. But it can be terribly frustrating. The City is an impenetrable maze of rules and standards for any occasion. Too many times to count we are told “you can’t have that” because it violates some engineering code, or bylaw, or whatever. Only to turn around and see that violation employed somewhere else or to get the … Continue reading My rules vs your rules

Road improvement only temporary

The City repaved Somerset west of Preston this morning. Don’t get too excited though. It’s just short term improvement change followed by more disruption. The section of Somerset further west, near Bayswater, is not ready for paving yet. The newly paved section will be striped next week as a two-way cul-de-sac street, ending at Musca’s. There will be no vehicular traffic, east or west, over the O-Train bridge, starting in August. The road will be completely dug out to insert a new underpass, for the north-south cycling route that parallels the east side of the O-train corridor. The contractor will keep … Continue reading Road improvement only temporary

Yucca gardening in Ottawa

Several years ago I became aware of Yucca plants. Once aware of them, I started noticing them everywhere. These have heavy spiked leaves at the bottom, and once a year send up a spectacular bloom stalk. Despite being a cactus-type plant, they survive the winters here if left outdoors. The yucca shown above is on Spruce Street, but the blooms have now fallen off. The bloom stalk was about 7′ tall: Continue reading Yucca gardening in Ottawa

March of the High Rises

The City has recently seen a spate of high rise applications and project announcements. Claridge has a number of downtown high rises in the high 20- storey range: beside Bell Canada, on Nepean and Gloucester, and on Queen at Lyon (currently Barbarella’s and a parking lot). There are taller applications too. The first out of the gate* was Soho Italia, proposed for 500 Preston Street near Dow’s Lake. The Soho Italia structure is notable for several features: most of the parking garage is above grade (about 7 stories of it) clad in a perforated black metal screen; the building rises straight up occupying all of … Continue reading March of the High Rises

Green Roof at College Square

The roof at Algonquin College’s new building is planted. The pic above shows the steepest part of roof, as seen from the northwest. I think the north half of the building bears a resemblance to the War Museum on LeBreton Flats. I notice the Ottawa U station will be called “Campus”; the Carleton U station is called “Carleton”; but the Algonquin College station is called “Baseline”. I think Baseline is a poor choice, since the road after which it is named is many kilometers long while the station is in one place only. Either “College Square” or “Algonquin” would be … Continue reading Green Roof at College Square

Drilling for STO?

On the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway just west of the War Museum, the road ascends a long gentle hill up and over the north-south railway track that connects to the Prince of Wales Bridge over the Ottawa River. The bridge is very high, allowing lots of room for an electrified double O-train track to the POW bridge. Soil sampling and core drilling is going on the corners of the bridge. Maybe the bridge is up for replacement at the end of its natural life … but it appears in good repair. I wonder if it has anything to do with the long-lost-in-action … Continue reading Drilling for STO?

Somerset bike underpass underway

Somerset rises up and over the O-Train on a viaduct. A viaduct is rather like a bridge, but it is not hollow underneath; instead two side walls hold up a long berm of dirt with the road on top. The only bridge portions are over the O-Train itself and over a bit of City Centre Avenue. Another viaduct is the portion of the transitway from the O-Train overpass west, over the top of Baysview Avenue, and then descending into the cut that enters Tunney’s Pasture. An underpass is required for the new bicycle path that parallels the east side of the O-Train corridor. A … Continue reading Somerset bike underpass underway

Spacing Ottawa magazine launch

  Spacing Magazine has a new issue on the bookstands. There is a launch party for it on Tuesday evening at 7pm. I have a teensey tiny little wee article     articlette in this issue. I have to tell you here, since you are likely to skip right over it when you read the mag (and you will buy it won’t you?). Now, for the price of the mag — just a fiver — you can meet the national and Ottawa editors, hear some neat panelists, and meet me in person if you have thus far managed to avoid that dubious pleasure. … Continue reading Spacing Ottawa magazine launch

At last, small house infill

In the Carlington neighborhood there has been a controversial infill (are there any other type??). The first proposal had a too-big house that dwarfed the post-war one-and-half storey homes that comprise most of the area. There was an odd -lot subdivision. Unsympathetic design. Most recently, there was a fuss over damage and removal of a large tree while digging utility lines. But, for all this, or perhaps because of all this, the finished result is lookin’ good. And most excitingly for all those upset about over-sized over-priced infills, this project is ideal for single persons, couples, or small families. The site on Crown Cresc. … Continue reading At last, small house infill

YES ! to municipal bike tax

So a City Councillor has suggested we tax bicycles, perhaps by levying a license fee. I suspect he pictures in his mind a miniature license plate, similar to the full size plates that a car has, or what bicycles in the 1950’s used to have. Some places use stickers instead of metal plates, but these are hard to read, and certainly cannot be read while an offending cyclist speeds off into the sunset after his or her dasterly deed. I agree with Councillor Monette. The municipality should license bicycles and indeed all vehicles driving in the City. Right now, the City … Continue reading YES ! to municipal bike tax

Elvis Anonymous

A little while ago I heard a CBC radio program about weird and unusual street names. Apparently there is an Elvis Lives Lane in Ottawa. So I made a point of looking for it when out at MEC. Low and behold, the street sign is stolen. Given the name, that is probably a common occurence, and explains why was not promptly replaced on this sign post. That might be a CCTV camera on the wall to right, I wonder if its focus included the sign post. The sign on the building beyond lines up nicely with the sign post and … Continue reading Elvis Anonymous

In praise of urban cycling

This video link,courtesy of Urbanophile, promotes cycling in Rotterdam, whether by regular bikes, sport bikes, utility bikes, mangos, and for all types of people. Notice particularly the teen boy from the opening scene who delivers the newspapers and eventually is handed the yellow leader’s jersey from the old cyclist. Rotterdam is slightly bigger than Ottawa. Can you ever imagine a similar video of Ottawa? Continue reading In praise of urban cycling

Laurier Bike Lane opens

The Laurier Avenue separated bike lane (SBL) opened today. Mayor Watson was there, Marianne Wilkinson, and former councilor Bedard: There was a reasonable size crowd to see the ribbon cutting and hear the (mercifully short) speeches. There were some protesters too, objecting to the bike lanes. Two cyclists were wearing helmet cams to film what they see: These paramedics patrolled the path, searching in vain for early fatalities or run-over protesters. The bigger risk might be sunburn on the bum cleavage: There were several cycle-mounted police there too. It just might be possible that Laurier Avenue will have faster medical … Continue reading Laurier Bike Lane opens

The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Warning: long post. Go pee or get your coffee before you start reading. After so much huffing and puffing, the City has detailed its final LRT route and station locations, and their costs, to Council and the Public. The most noteworthy change has been to move the tunnel from the “cross country” deep alignment under Albert Street, then Queen Street … to one that traverses the downtown always under Queen. I have read the available material from the City justifying the move. It is a very political document, light on the technical stuff. It’s way more PR oriented than the previous reports. … Continue reading The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Hope for traffic calming

I came across this example of traffic calming in Port Hope. A residential collector street obviously suffers from excessive speeding traffic. And Port Hope certainly had an abundance of jacked-up pickup trucks and elderly cars with look-at-me “mufflers” (amplifiers?). I suspect cruisin’ the streets is a vehicular  passeggiata for the Hopeful. This long thin traffic island, repeated every block, effectively narrows the available lane space and forces a certain percentage of vehicles to slow down a bit. I was impressed by the intensive landscaping in the medians, which even included trees: Trees were planted both in the island and on both sides … Continue reading Hope for traffic calming

Preston Extension open (for how long…)

Recall that last week the Preston extension (running north from Albert to a legal crosswalk over the transitway to NCC paths along the River) was suddenly gated and locked. We still don’t know for sure who did it, but the NCC seems willing to take the hit. Then, the next day the gate was open. I am told that the chain/lock were cut rather than unlocked. On Tuesday evening, the path received heavy use for patrons heading out to Bluesfest, where they could catch The Long Waits and The NeverEnding Lineups. About dusk I headed out to check out the route. Upon first seeing … Continue reading Preston Extension open (for how long…)

Unintended benefits of Laurier SBL

The Laurier Separated Bike Lane — SBL — opens July 10th. Considerable criticism has been levelled that it goes nowhere from nowhere to nowhere. I guess these critics want a SBL that never starts nor stops…  they just don’t want it at all. At the western end of Laurier, the bike lane stops at Bronson. Considerable volumes of bike traffic will have moved off the route to go north and west or south by time the lane reaches Bronson. But for traffic continuing into Dalhousie, Chinatown, or desiring to go south parallel to Bronson, some new measures have been put into place … Continue reading Unintended benefits of Laurier SBL

Protecting Urban Trees during construction

My first house was on Booth Street. It was a new townhouse in 1980, built by RJ Nicol. At the curb line was a very large street tree. I selected the my house in part because of the large tree in front. During construction, the approved plans called for its protection by wrapping the trunk in snow fence. The water main trench was cut out to the street a foot or so to one side of the tree. The sewer cut on the other side. Then the gas company came along and when they reached the tree, dug a hole … Continue reading Protecting Urban Trees during construction